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Ann Hematol. 2013 Apr;92(4):497-504. doi: 10.1007/s00277-012-1632-x. Epub 2012 Nov 20.

Impact of cytomegalovirus gastrointestinal disease on the clinical outcomes in patients with gastrointestinal graft-versus-host disease in the era of preemptive therapy.

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Division of Hematology, Department of Internal Medicine, Catholic Blood and Marrow Transplantation Center, Seoul St. Mary's Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea.


Cytomegalovirus gastrointestinal (CMV-GI) disease in GI graft-versus-host disease (GI-GVHD) has not been properly evaluated in the era of preemptive therapy for CMV infection. We investigated 103 patients with GI-GVHD who underwent endoscopic biopsies with immunohistochemical staining for CMV. All recipients and/or donors were seropositive for CMV and monitored with a strategy of preemptive therapy based on real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Twenty-six patients (25 %) developed CMV-GI disease, especially in HLA-mismatched transplants (P = 0.023) and with initial gut involvement of GVHD (P = 0.009). The CMV-GI diseases were diagnosed at follow-up endoscopies (n = 10, 39 %), comprising 19 % of 52 patients who underwent follow-up endoscopies, as well as initial endoscopies (n = 16, 61 %), comprising 16 % of all GI-GVHD patients. In seven cases, either at initial (n = 5) or follow-up endoscopies (n = 2), CMV-GI disease was diagnosed in the absence of histopathologic evidence for GI-GVHD. Notably, only 11 patients (42 %) had prior CMV DNAemia before the diagnosis of CMV-GI disease, while 12 (46 %) and three (12 %) had concurrent and no CMV DNAemia, respectively. Sixty-five percent of CMV-GI disease was resolved by additional antiviral therapies, but CMV-GI disease (P = 0.032) as well as severity of GVHD (P = 0.001) negatively affected GVHD-specific survival. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that CMV-GI disease was a cause of initial or persistent GI manifestations after the initiation of therapy in a considerable proportion of GI-GVHD. These suggest the necessity of novel strategies to reduce CMV-GI disease as well as an effort to confirm CMV with repeated endoscopies.

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